Olympic National Park, 2011
One of my good friends and his wife had gotten back from their vacation and we hadn't gotten together in quite some time, so with a long weekend coming up I asked if they'd like to do anything and they offered to host me up in Washington. The weather turned out to be absolutely perfect, sunny and not even any fog, so (after some absolutely delicious local oysters and intriguing art) we had an excellent time getting out to the Olympic peninsula to do some backpacking for a few days. The first day my friend and I went out alone on a trail starting from the top of one of the mountain ridges. On top of the ridge there were all kinds of views of the snowcapped Olympics and lovely wildflowers all around. Soon the trail dropped into one of the valleys next to a river and into the rainforest. Ferns and other big leafy things were everywhere and the trees were covered in moss. And the trail kept dropping and dropping...must've dropped about a thousand feet in a few miles. It was so steep and densely wooded that we couldn't even find a little bit of flat ground to put up a tent! Then just about as it was getting dark we crossed a bridge and found a nice camp right next to the creek. There was a fire ring there already and it was getting cold so my friend went about and found some wood and started a nice fire. Soon we didn't even need jackets any longer and we were relaxing, singing, remembering stories from college, a wonderful evening.
The next day we hiked out and met up with his wife and the three of us went on a two day excursion by the Queets River. The trail started off by fording the river itself! That was quite an experience. At its deepest the water was just below waist high and it definitely was moving fast enough that it would sweep you down if you lost your footing. Still, with a pack and poles and moving slowly and carefully, there were no problems and we made it across. The forest on the other side was beautiful! Hundred foot tall Douglas firs and cedars were all around along with the ferns and some of the biggest clovers I've ever seen. Along the trail was an old homestead, long abandoned, but some wild blackberries were growing in huge clusters of brambles. Later on the trail were little patches of wild blueberries, but most of them had been cleared out by other animals who hopefully enjoyed the taste as much as we did. We found a wonderful campsite at the base of a ring of large spruce trees with a gorgeous fire pit, a stump made into a little table, and even a beach next to the river. So of course we had to set up a fire and go swimming! After it got dark it was beautiful seeing the light from the fire bounce up the trunk of the huge trees while having some amazing spiced roasted potatoes and great couscous with fresh bell peppers. One of the largest trees in the circle must have been near 7 feet around. After the fire died out it still made a magnificent silhouette against the sky. That was nothing compared to the tree we saw the next day however. We went up a little side trail that wound through some brambles and up and down a few hills, but it was quite overgrown with some of the bushes coming up nearly to our shoulders. Looking up, there were the tops of the tall trees. But after rounding a short curve the trail stopped at the base of the world's largest Douglas fir. This tree is massive, nearly 17 feet in diameter and over 200 feet tall. Craning my neck to look up it, the top had broken off so at one point it must have been even larger. It is so beautiful to see such magnificent trees and to be hiking among so many different kinds as well.
I then repacked all of my bags in a hotel and took an early flight back home the next morning, already unhappy that I had to leave such a pretty place. I'm sure that I will be back soon, if for nothing else the oysters!
This was shot with my regular Minolta system on rolls of Ektachrome E200 film. I had really forgotten how dark it can get in the forest, and is one of the few times I think I really did need a tripod. I had a lot of fun playing with contrast and shadows in the dense forest.
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